Following apparatus innovation in early 2001, the vaulting horse has now been replaced with a wider vaulting table. It provides the perfect platform from which to launch sky high, before returning to earth with a controlled landing.
Gymnasts approach the vault from a 25metre run, transfer their speed to the springboard and seek a quick hand placement to the table. From here the gymnast uses internal spring to launch themselves vertically for a combination of somersaults and twists. A good vault should land at least 2metres from the table and include no steps on landing
Uneven Bars (UB)
Like the men’s parallel bars the Uneven Bars provide double the challenge for gymnasts. The low bar is set around 170cm in height and the high bar often around 250cm. The distance between the two bars is set at a maximum of 180cm.
Swinging and continuous movements are required on this apparatus. Routines typically include movements in both directions as well as above and below the bars. Elements with twists and somersaults with multiple grip changes and high flight often are awarded with the highest scores. Like men’s horizontal bar, the wind up and dismount is often the most exciting part of the routine.
Balance Beam (BB)
Perhaps the most precarious piece of apparatus for girls, the beam stands 1.25metres from the floor, is five metres long and if that was not posing enough of a challenge, is only 10cm wide. That is the width of your average house brick!
A beam routine is an exercise in precision with no room for error. The gymnast performs a combination of acrobatic elements, leaps, jumps, turns, steps, waves and balance elements. These can be done standing, sitting or lying on the beam. It is a requirement that the gymnast uses the entire length of the beam, with routines concluding often with a series of acrobatic elements off the side or end of the beam.
Floor Exercise (FX)
The floor exercise allows the gymnast their moment in the spotlight and is considered by many to be the most expressive piece of women’s apparatus.
A floor routine, always accompanied by music, includes a combination of dance movements and sequences interspersed with a variety of tumbling and acrobatic elements. The whole floor area must be used in the routine with clear variances in mood, tempo and direction. Individuality, originality, and artistry of presentation are the key ingredients of a great routine.
Floor Exercise (FX)
The 12 X12 metre sprung floor area allows the gymnast to reach incredible heights following a series of explosive and power acrobatic and tumbling skills. Coming back down to earth is only half the fun!
A floor routine can include movements that demonstrate strength, flexibility and balance. Routines combine moves such as somersaults, twists and hold elements. The whole floor area is used throughout the routine and often shows touches of personal expression and execution. An elite gymnast’s routine will typically last between 50 sec. and 1’10 min.
Pommel Horse (PH)
Standing 1.15 metres from the floor the pommel horse is one of the hardest pieces of men’s apparatus to master. It is unforgiving and has been known to buck many a gymnast. Great Britain has a proud tradition of fine pommel horse workers. Are you the next?
A good pommel horse routine will demonstrate smooth continuous circular and pendulum type swings, double leg circles and scissor movements. It is quite common to see gymnasts move up and down the length of the pommel horse and finish their routine by swinging through handstand after a series of spindles and quick hand placements. The pommel horse is a piece of apparatus not for the feint-hearted.
Often described as like ‘watching a bird swing in a cage’, to master the rings a gymnast needs incredible strength, balance and body tension. Suspended 2.80 metres from the floor, there is little room for error.
Ring routines include a variety of movements demonstrating purse strength, support and balance. Gymnasts often perform a series of swings and holds with both forward and backward elements. The routine culminates in a wound up swing followed by an acrobatic dismount containing multiple somersaults and twists. Feeling dizzy?
Imagine charging 25 metres towards a 1.35 metre vaulting table, springing from the top and landing within a set of parallel lines on the other side. This is the task facing the gymnast wishing to master the vault.
The combination of a fast run and approach to the spring board, quick transition to the vaulting table and explosive take-off should see the gymnast catapult themselves sky high in preparation for a controlled landing. Multiple twists and rotations are seen in the air with gymnasts often approaching the vault in either a forward or backward direction. There is little room for error in ‘blink and you may miss it’ apparatus.
Parallel Bars (PB)
If you thought swinging and balancing on one bar was hard enough, try negotiating two. The Parallel Bars stand 2.00 metres from floor and ‘give’ under the gymnasts weight to provide for some crazy combinations of skills seen both above and below the bars.
Like the rings, the parallel bars require a combination of swinging movements with strength or hold elements. Gymnasts often travel along the bars and typically bring the routine to a close with a daring dismount from the end or side of the bars involving multiple somersaults and twists.
Horizontal (High) Bar (HB)
Perhaps the most spectacular of the men’s apparatus, the horizontal bar stands 2.80 metres from floor and sees the gymnast turn multiple swinging circles, daring release and catch elements and tightly wound up dismounts that defy the imagination.
Gymnasts perform continuous clean swinging movements and must not touch the bar with their body. Complex grip changes add variety and risk to routines. Dismounts provide the most ‘heart in mouth’ moments of the horizontal bar routine as the gymnast catapults themselves well above and beyond the bar before safely negotiating a safe and controlled landing. Master this piece of apparatus and you would make a great pilot!
This piece of equipment is like a baby trampoline, it is used for jumps, turns, twisting and forward and backward acrobatic work, it gives the gymnast longer in the air to learn different and difficult elements and takes less muscular forces on a trampette than it would from spring boards or a sprung floor, this means that the gymnast can work for longer doing more and more of the same repetitive work without tiring.
Chalk is used on the hands for gripping; chalk is a white powdery substance that is really magnesium carbonate. Some gymnasts prefer a lot of chalk, some like no chalk, and others like a mixture of chalk and water to make their grip sticky.
Hand Guards / Grips
You cant talk about chalk without mentioning grips. Grips are worn on some gymnasts hands during their training and competition. It prevents the hands from tearing when working on the bars and rings etc.